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HFHR on tragic death of Dominik from Bieżuń

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has sent a letter to the Regional Prosecutor in Płock, addressing the tragic death of Dominik, a teenager from Bieżuń. According to media reports, the scornful and degrading peers’ response to Dominik’s appearance, and in particular his outfits and hair style, was a factor that contributed to the boy’s suicide. The HFHR asked the prosecutors to pay special attention to the case.

Dominik’s peers called him a “queer” because his appearance deviated from the socially accepted canon of masculinity and “normalcy”. “The behaviour of pupils in Domnik’s school and the lack of environment’s response to it reflect a general problem present in the Polish society, namely the popularisation of homophobic attitudes”, the letter reads. “Regrettably, social studies show that hate speech directed at non-heterosexuals is, to a significant degree, approved within Polish society”, says Jarosław Jagura, HFHR’s lawyer.

“It’s extremely important not to ignore cases of bullying at schools, also those involving homophobic sentiments. Any conduct that involves insults, humiliation and harassment at schools must be addressed by teachers”, reminds the letter of the HFHR.

“Schools are obliged to ensure an educational environment that is safe and free from violence, and act to prevent social exclusion and degrading treatment”, says Dr Dorota Pudzianowska, Coordinator of the “Article 32” Programme. “I hope that the conclusions of the inquiry will contribute to elimination of hate speech in Polish schools”, Dr Pudzianowska adds.

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